On Fire: Finding Your Gift And Using It

Cars and Coffee - Oct '09As he steered his Lexus 430 SC onto the freeway in early morning traffic, John kicked himself. Why do I feel so…flat?

He had finally achieved the stability for which he worked so hard–a good job with a profitable company, a new sports car, a steady girlfriend, bills paid…he even had the quickest route to work mapped out and timed—26.5 minutes flat. His apartment was the epitome of order. Over the weekend he found the screw needed to tighten the rack on which to hang his after-shower towel.

Life was good. Even perfect.

But John couldn’t shake a nagging darkness, like someone had died. No one close to him was even ill. He tried buoying his spirits—an after-work drink with the guys, viewing a horror movie, and extra time on the gym’s treadmill. Nothing worked for long.

John worried his funk would affect his work. Should I see my doctor…a counselor… or psychiatrist? No, I don’t want someone thinking I’m crazy or putting me on pills. Finally he rang the parish of the little church in his neighborhood and made an appointment to see the priest.

Sitting in Father Lewis’ office, John nervously explained his predicament: the great life he had achieved with the job, car, girlfriend…and the mysterious depression.

At the end of John’s sentence explaining how he felt “dead” all the time, Father Lewis cleared his throat and jumped in. It’s clear the goals you’ve achieved haven’t brought you happiness. In fact, the opposite. Humans are meant to live life as adventurers, always growing. When we pursue safety as a goal, we kill our hearts.

Father Lewis went on to share an example from his own life and then gave John an assignment: Find one new, outlandish thing to pursue each week for the next three weeks and then come back and see me.

Although he had no idea how to fulfill the assignment, something in John’s mind clicked. He knew Father Lewis was on to something.

A week later John reviewed his progress:

— Although he was not ready to give up his preferred route to work, he found a new coffee shop to stop at on the way.

— He survived an introductory boxing class at the gym.

— The scariest thing he could think of was rock climbing. Hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain brought shivers up his spine. He found a beginners rock climbing class listed in a YMCA catalogue. He paid the $49 to go in two weeks.

— Father Lewis had handed him a flyer on Mentoring Day for boys in foster care. It was a day of activities and a cook out in the park for the boys, given by men in the church. He phoned the parish and said he would be there—this Saturday.

He didn’t know why, but the dead feeling had eased considerably. John sensed a slight hopefulness—even excitement at times—about the future.

The towel rack was now coming loose from the wall. It would probably be all the way down in two days. John clicked through his priorities in his mind. The rack would just have to wait.

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Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

-Helen Keller

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This post is an excerpt from my free ebook: Blossom:You

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photo credit: Charles Williams (creative commons)


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